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CUBA FAQ's

Below you will find questions and answers, the frequently asked questions from first time travelers to Cuba we often get in our mailbox.

It is advisable to read these questions and answers to start with when you are intending to go to Cuba.

- Isn't Cuba a dangerous country?
- Do they have Internet & E-mail access in Cuba?
- The Caribbean is so expensive ... how much will it cost?
- What is the best time to go to Cuba, and what is the cheapest period?
- Do I need a Visa and a passport?
- They told me I need to a book an hotel, but I want to stay in a Casa Particular?
- Yikes!! I don't speak Spanish... !!!
- What about electricity?
- What about money? and can I use my credit card?
- I hear many prescription drugs are not available in Cuba ... what if I get sick?
- Can I travel on my own or do I have to make a tour reservation?
- I'm a woman traveling alone. Is Cuba a safe place to travel for me?
- What are the best places to visit in Cuba?
- Can you rent a bike or scooter in Cuba?
- Can you play golf in Cuba?
- Where can I have a cheap and decent dinner?
- What's the best way to travel around Cuba?
- What and where are the best nightlife places to go in Cuba?

Isn't Cuba a dangerous country?

Actually, Cuba has the lowest crime rate in the Western Hemisphere! You will be surprised by the visible police presence in Cuba. They are there specifically to protect and help tourists.
Foreign currency and/or convertible pesos (CUC) are vital to their economy, they bend over backwards to make sure everyone has a safe and pleasant stay.
Although, be aware of your belongings in cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba just like in every capital city


Do they have Internet & E-mail access in Cuba?

Yes

It is rare, however, for ordinary Cubans to have internet access.
Almost all hotels have at least 1 or 2 computers to go on the internet for foreigners.
In the touristic areas there also are internet "cafés" from Etecsa the Cuban telephone/internet provider.
Forget about uploading pictures because the Cuban internet is very slow, about 56 Kbs if you are lucky. Also using USB sticks is 99% not possible.


The Caribbean is so expensive ... how much will does Cuba cost?

First of all, in comparison with other Caribbean islands Cuba isn't expensive. You can not compare Cuba with the mainland of any country in specific not with prices in Asia.
For the price of a hotel room on most other islands in the caribbe, all of your daily expenses will be covered in Cuba. Your airfare will be your most expensive single item.
I find that CUC 75 - 100 is typically more than enough for a casa, food, transportation and "incidentals".
Low budget travelers can do with 50 cuc per day.


What is the best time to go to Cuba, and what is the cheapest period?

March, April October and November are the months with the nicest weather and less rain.
The high season in Cuba is July / August
Peak Season is December / January/ February (Canadians)
Hurricane season is from June 1 till November 30
For a more detailed weather info check out the General Info page


Do I need a Visa and a passport?

Yes and yes

Cuba will give you a visa / tourist card, however, you must acquire the visa before you arrive.
You can accomplish this by contacting the nearest Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country, except for citizens of the USA, whom will be issued a visa onboard their flights to Cuba.

Passports
Ensure that your passport has at least 6 months left till it expires, calculated from your departure date ...

More about the do's and don'ts in the "Vamos" page


They told me I need to a book an hotel, but I want to stay in a Casa Particular?

Cuban unwritten rules say: you have to book a hotel for the first night.
If you only booked a flight you must fill in your visa, the old version of the visa will ask you in which hotel you are staying ... fill in any address of a hotel and look really innocent going through customs ...
The experience tells, it is also ok to fill in any address of a licensed casa particular. However ... IF customs has a strict day they can demand to book a hotel, if you didn't they will make a reservation for you.


Yikes!! I don't speak Spanish... !!!

Some Spanish is a definite plus. I suggest you learn a few simple phrases.
However, many Cubans speak English and many of the people we will be in contact with speak English very well also. Cubans are very patient, don't worry, they will wait for you to find the right word.


What about electricity?

Socket or outlet Cuba

Electricity

Cuba has 110 volt, some more luxury hotels also 220.
Socket is as shown at the picture.


What about money? and can I use my credit card?

Sure ... as long as it's not drawn on an American bank. Unfortunately, it's part of the US embargo restrictions on Cuba. No US travelers cheques either. Americans have to carry cash.
Fortunately, almost all hotels have safes in the room. As for casa particulares; mostly they are to trust, because the owners of a casa are to frightened to loose their licensee because something "bad" happened with a tourist in their home.

Cuba-Junky does not recommend to use ATM's in Cuba. There are some of these machines but also stories of travelers with bad experiences ... an ATM machine in a bad mood can swallow your card, and it won't be Cuba when somebody is there to help you get it back :)


I hear many prescription drugs are not available in Cuba ... what if I get sick?

Cuban doctors are known throughout Latin America as the best trained doctors in the region. However, they do lack many of the bare necessities that we expect. "Tourist Pharmacies" DO stock many prescription drugs. Nevertheless, I suggest bringing with you antibiotics, aspirin, band-aids, anything you may need for personal hygiene, etc. just in case. Besides, they make great gifts for the Cubans when you leave.


Can I travel on my own or do I have to make a tour reservation?

You can travel through Cuba on your own, however, sometimes it can be a bit of an adventure but that's why we travel for right? ;).
You can rent a car, grab a by bus, train, domestic flight, arrange a transfer or taxi on llocation, or just hitch hike.


I'm a woman traveling alone. Is Cuba a safe place to travel for me?

Yes! No problem ... but don't fall in love :) And don't go down dark streets at night, the same streets you wouldn't go in in your own hometown, and just be careful while hitch hiking. Hitch hiking should be considered as a last resort.
Personally, yes I am female too, in the bigger cities like Havana I take a taxi when I go out at night. Ask the taxi driver to wait until you close the door of your home behind you ... they will :)
Smaller towns like Trinidad or Vinales are safe at night time for female travelers, you can just walk home.

Use you female instinct!


What are the best places to visit in Cuba?

General
Well Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa, at least, is the opinion of Cuba-Junky.

Nature
For nature or eco tours go to Baracoa, Vinales, Topes de Collantes (Escambray), Granma Province (Siera Maestra Mountains)

Beach
If you want to go into a resort relaxing at the beach: Varadero, Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo), Guardalavaca.

Scuba Diving
Maria La Gorda is best but there are many other diving areas around Cuba.


Can you rent a bike or scooter in Cuba?

Yes, lots of hotels in resort areas have bikes for you to rent or otherwise outside of the hotel in the resort area.

As for other places ...

For bike rent Havana, this is the address:
Edificio Metropolitano, San Juan de Dios esg. Aguacate, Habana Vieja
Tel: +53 7 860 8532
Costs about 12 cuc a day.

Ask the owner of your casa particular, lots of times they have bikes available to enjoy the surroundings


Can you play golf in Cuba?

Yes, in Varadero and Havana, both 9 holes golf courses.
But do not compare Cuba with real golf destinations like the Dominican Republic or Jamaica.


Where can I have a cheap and decent dinner?

The best dinners you will have at the Casa Particular you are staying or at a Paladar


What's the best way to travel around Cuba?

Rent a car, take the Viazul Bus, and by domestic flight


What and where are the best nightlife places to go in Cuba?

Many, but the best to enjoy life music all around Cuba are the Casa de la Trova's, located in almost every city around Cuba.

 



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